Questions over why a carriage horse, named Jerry, collapsed to the ground while pulling a carriage in downtown Salt Lake City, have taken quite a twist. It is unfortunate, and bizarre, that the horse-drawn carriage business owner provided a photo of a different horse to media last week, sparking more controversy. As has been reported, the animal actually died on Friday. The horse initially suffered an attack of colic, or stomach pain.
These kind of attacks occur, and while the death is unfortunate, it wasn't connected to any mistreatment on the street. Calls by the Humane Society for a ban on horse-drawn carriage tours is a big overreaction to what occurred. Horses have been carrying persons for years without any evident problems. The fact is, there is no abuse occurring to the horses.
Another animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has voiced concern over the heat conditions on Aug. 17, the day that the horse collapsed due to the colic attack. At the time the horse fell, it was several degrees short of the 97 high that was reached.
That temperature is significantly below Salt Lake City ordinances that permit carriage horses to be on the streets in temperatures as high as 107 degrees.
No one wants a horse to suffer, and certainly officials should make sure that animals in Utah are protected.
However, it seems pretty clear that what occurred with Jerry the carriage horse was not due to any suffering brought on by the horse's regular exertions. To ban carriage horses because a case of colic occurred, even if unfortunately preceding the animal's death, would be an extreme response.
(Editor's note: The editorial was updated to include the animal's death)